Peter Bol’s remarkable journey from war-torn Sudan to Olympic Games finalist will be completed on Wednesday.
Bol was just four years old when his family fled war-torn Sudan and headed for Egypt where they spent another six years.
When they finally got the chance for a fresh start in Australia, the family first settled in Townsville before moving to Perth.
“I love my identity and my background,” Bol, 27, said in an interview with Centre for Stories in 2020.
“My mum is Sudanese, my dad is South Sudanese. I take a lot of pride in both of those.
“But I’m also as equally thankful to be here.”
Bol began his sporting life in Australia as a basketballer before his running potential was spotted at the age of 16.
He disappointed at the Rio Olympics in 2016, placing sixth in his heat, but the Tokyo Games five years on has proved a different story.
Bol broke the Australian 800-metre record twice in as many nights to issue a loud warning to his Olympic rivals, lowering the mark to one minute 44:11 seconds while easing down.
But it is a gold medal, not records, that Bol wants.
“The plan stays the same,” Bol said after becoming the first Australian to make an Olympic 800-metre final since Ralph Doubell won the event at Mexico in 1968.
“We’re here to race. We’re not here to chase times.
“Times and records can go. I took [training partner and close friend Joseph Deng’s] record.
“But championships and golds are forever, so that’s what we’re chasing.”
Bol is managed by Justin Templeton, who formerly shaped the career of two-time 800-metre Olympic champion David Rudisha.
It is a partnership that gives Bol invaluable insight into how to win, yet his approach to social media in the most pressurised of weeks shows him to be very much his own man.
“James has done so much,” Bol said.
“He managed David Rudisha and the stories he tells me.
“He has so much inside knowledge and gives me so much knowledge.
“I was embracing all the social media stuff.
“Credit to Jeff (fellow Australian 800-metre runner and other member of coach Justin Rinaldi’s squad Jeff Riseley) – he’s so professional.
“I think he put up on Instagram, ‘I’m off for these championships’. I was thinking to myself, ‘I’d better get off Instagram too’.
“And I’m like, ‘Wait, I’m not Jeff. I’m myself and I’ve got to keep the same thing that I keep doing’.
“I love creating noise, I love creating the hype.”